For whom the cheer tolls


“When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.”  Luke 13:10-17

Back in the day the crowds did a lot of cheering. All the pompous control freaks put in their place. The pouty police taken down a peg or two. The poor weighed-down commonfolk lifted up. Long live the Messiah. Love live the King.

We still do the same today.

The bankers. All those evil people who spent every working-day finding ways to offer us easier and easier credit. The credit we could never afford, and the consequences of which we chose to ignore.

The politicians. All those self-serving “maintain the status-quo” slugs whose motivator for power is not you and me. The slugs we cannot be bothered to vote for, examine and question, or hold to account.

The Church. That institution of hypocrites, debaters and judges. Telling us what we can and cannot do from their increasingly remote and irrelevant ivory towers. The towers we have happily contributed to because that’s what good Christians do.

And in all of this there is one common theme:

Us

Our complacency, our greed, and our butterfly-attention-spans. Our distaste of getting involved because that’s “their job”. Our mockery of “those people” who are actually just like us – who in reality “are us”.  Those we laugh with – until we are told to we must laugh at them (and we do). Those we live with until someone steps out and says “enough” – and then we rejoice as they get their humiliating and public come-uppance.

Them. Always them.

Never us.

More and more I see “us” as Jesus teaches. Less and less I see “them”.

More and more I see lazy Christians (like me) pointing the finger at lazy non-Christians (like me).  I see greedy Christians (like me) pointing the finger at greedy non-Christians (like me). I see our mockery – mine included – weaving a merry dance through “us and them”.

But is that not simply “mocking” ourselves – and “rejoicing” – as we do?

“… all his opponents were put to shame … ” – thank God for their honesty, because I do not see much in the rejoicing crowds.

He has brought me a long way these past years. He has encouraged me – challenged me – invited me – asked me to step in and out of “the crowd”.  He has looked at me in silence as I cheered long and hard in the crowd.  He has looked at me in silence whenever I cheered at someone else’s discomfort.  A look I never even noticed for many decades.

He has invited me more and more to see “me in you” – to see “me in them” – and to see “us” is “all of us” – not just “some of us” (which then defaults to “them and us”).

And reading the verses this morning I wonder … if Jesus had looked in silence at the rejoicing crowd … would they have noticed?  Or is cheering at another’s misfortune so much easier?

And – I wonder – is God Soft Hands Jesus really cheering with us?

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